Subject: Yomiuri Shimbun: Alkatiri eyes return to power

Alkatiri eyes return to power / E. Timor's Fretilin party plans antigovt rally later this month

Asanobu Sato / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

Former East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Tuesday that his Fretilin party, which won the most votes in the country's first general election in late June, but was unable to secure an absolute majority in parliament, will launch an antigovernment campaign at the end of this month with a view to regaining power in the medium term. The campaign will begin with a rally in Same, about 80 kilometers south of Dili.

In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun during his visit to Jakarta, Alkatiri mapped out his planned path to power, saying "the only way to bring back peace and stability in this country is to embark on an all-inclusive government for about two years" and to call for "new elections" afterward.

Regarding the four party ruling coalition, which excludes his party, Alkatiri called the government "illegal and unconstitutional." He bitterly criticized the coalition led by former president and independence hero Xanana Gusmao, saying, "This is an alliance of four parties with only one objective--to fight Fretilin."

"It's not easy for Xanana to last too long with this kind of government, particularly because some people who were expecting to be ministers are suddenly put aside, and they started already to move...against the government," Alkatiri said.

Gusmao is now prime minister and maintains an adversarial stance toward Fretilin, offering dim prospects for political stability in the impoverished country.

East Timor's constitution stipulates that the president cannot dissolve the parliament within six months after a general election, making early January the earliest opportunity for Fretilin to seize power.

Alkatiri sees a new general election in 2008 as one possible scenario, but said, "I don't think it will resolve the problem," suggesting he prefers bolstering his party's strength in an "all-inclusive government" before a new general election.

Discussing his strategy for fighting the government, Alkatiri said, "The only thing that I won't do is use violence against the government, but we can...boycott activity of the government."

Alkatiri predicts that the planned September rally will attract about "1,500 people from all over the country," adding that Fretilin "will try to organize them to start a boycott of government activity, but without violence."

A series of violent events have been reported in the eastern part of the country, where Fretilin has a lot of support, since Gusmao's administration took office in early August. Concerning security in the area, Alkatiri said "Apparently the situation is getting better," and stressed Fretilin's role in improving matters.

"We went down to Viqueque, to Baucau, to Lautem and other places and talked to the people, trying to get them to understand that violence is not the legal and right way to do things. We explained to them other types of action," Alkatiri said.

Meanwhile, Alkatiri made clear his opposition to the presence of 1,000 Australian troops in East Timor, which were requested by President Ramos Horta.

"This is an agreement between two states. It needs to be ratified by the parliament. And up to now the agreement was not ratified. It means their presence is completely illegal," said Alkatiri, adding that the troops are "lacking in neutrality."

(Sep. 14, 2007)

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